This offseason, we've learned that it's a bad time to be an NFL running back. Three star running backs were slapped with the franchise tag, four-time Pro Bowler Dalvin Cook was straight-up released and Austin Ekeler was denied his request for an extension, and didn't find much interest on the trade market either. Ekeler said this month he wanted to hear from NFL owners on why running backs aren't getting paid, and on Wednesday, one NFL owner spoke up.
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay took to Twitter to address the ongoing running back saga, saying that a position wanting to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement three years into its decade-long term is "inappropriate," and that some agents are selling "bad faith."
NFL Running Back situation- We have negotiated a CBA,that took years of effort and hard work and compromise in good faith by both sides..to say now that a specific Player category wants another negotiation after the fact,is inappropriate. Some Agents are selling ‘bad faith’..— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) July 26, 2023
What's fascinating about Irsay specifically deciding to speak his piece is that he has the one running back who has the best shot to stop the running back disrespect in Jonathan Taylor, . Taylor averaged 91.27 scrimmage yards per game last season while missing six contests due to ankle injuries, but the 24-year-old was the best running back in the entire league in 2021.
In that season, Taylor led the league in rushing yards (1,811), touchdowns (20) and recorded 10 100-yard rushing games. He's eligible for a contract extension this offseason, but in looking at the running back market, no one is expecting him to get one.
On Wednesday night, Taylor's agent Malki Kawa of First Round Management took to Twitter to fire back at Irsay's take.
"The market is what the market is," Colts GM Chris Ballard said when asked about the state of running back contracts, per The Athletic. "But saying that, like I've always told you, you pay good players. You pay guys that are gonna help you win, regardless of the position. We think very highly of Jonathan. … We think that'll play out over time and work out the way it should either way."
On July 17, after Tony Pollard, Saquon Barkley and Josh Jacobs officially became the only franchise-tagged players to not receive long-term extensions, Taylor took to Twitter to bemoan what is going on with the running back position:
"1. If you're good enough, they'll find you.
2. If you work hard enough, you'll succeed.
…If you succeed…
3. You boost the Organization
Doesn't matter, you're a RB."
On Thursday, Irsay followed up his comments and said that they were not directed at Taylor specifically. He also added that there have been no negotiations between the Colts and Taylor's camp about an extension thus far.
"The comment wasn't really directed at Jonathan," Irsay said, via ESPN. "We haven't exchanged any contract numbers with each other or anything like that. So, it's not like we're in the midst of that. I think we had a tough season last year. Didn't win a lot of games. This is a year about coming back together and having a great year and we're really depending on Jonathan to team up with [quarterback] Anthony Richardson to try and pull together to have a great year."
A handful of the NFL's best running backs came together on Saturday for a private Zoom meeting to discuss next steps in improving the position, according to ESPN. It's unknown what can be done to better running backs' situations, but Irsay clearly believes doing anything that comes close to renegotiating the agreed-upon CBA is absurd.